How nerd culture turned curiosity into a vice

Why listening to fans is a horrible idea for any creator

How nerd culture turned curiosity into a vice

Listening to customer feedback is one of the worst things you can do as a creator.

Let's take liberty with that word "customer". If you're an author (in any medium), you probably don't think of your readers as customers. That's a mistake.

Shouldn't you care what your buyers think?

Yes. And no.

Yes, because they have to buy from you. If you aren't giving them stuff they want, then you aren't in business. You might win literary awards on the cocktail circuit... but just try to pay your rent with a Booker prize.

But here comes the "but..."

You care what your readers think as long as they're buying.

That doesn't mean that they themselves have the first idea of why they buy.

If you listened to nerds, the reason why they like things is because they can obsess over it.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't too much different from the gossips obsessing over celebrities.

Nerds will ask for stuff that nerds know and like.

They want lists of rules and stats and backstory. They want that stuff by the truckload.

What nerds want and will buy – the stories that get their attention in the first place – that's different.

Tolkien may be the one exception to this rule. He really did spend decades digging into his created world.

Most writers just make stuff up.

A throwaway line here, a cool sounding name there, a mysterious phrase in chapter 9... that's how worlds get built.

Fan the flames of curiosity and leave 'em slobbering like a hungry dog.

But then it gets weird.

Harmless entertainment degenerates into an obsession with trivia:

And the most absurd manifestation is the rise of “geek culture” – of people who devote enormous amounts of time and energy to learning and thinking about the minutiae of fictional universes from movies, comics, and games, or who obsess over the work and personal lives of favorite actors, musicians, bands, etc.  My point, as longtime readers know, is by no means to disparage such things per se.  But for many people today, such trivial pursuits have gone well beyond a point that is spiritually healthy, and have become a kind of substitute religion.

Ed Feser

Creator Mode isn't anything like Consumer Mode.

They occupy two different mental spaces.

That kind of feedback shouldn't guide your creative process. If it does, you won't be creative for long.

Sure, you can build a steady income by chasing trends over at the Kindle store.

But are you building a career by doing what everybody else does, only a little bit different?

Doubt it.

The best writers, the writers you know by name, didn't do that.

They took a stand and wrote from their own unique point of view.

They don't follow the herd, they lead it.


PS – If you enjoy these posts, why not subscribe? That way you can receive them directly in your inbox... and you'll get the members-only posts.

There's no charge (yet) to subscribe as a free member, so click here and join now.

Subscribe to rogue planet

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
[email protected]
Subscribe